It’s taken a long period of time, but finally I’ve got interview from my good friend, who already left this wonderful place.
So let’s start.
How did you move to Maldives to work and live? Your story
I value the enriching and invaluable experiences that living in a new country brings. I’ve studied and traveled to various countries around the world. After having lived in Kathmandu, Nepal (my hometown) for eight years continuously, I was very happy to move to the Maldives to work for International Organization for Migration.
IOM organized my travel and visa to the Maldives. I stayed in Hotel Laze (now called Somerset Inn, M. Aazamaan Villa, Kulhidhoshu Magu, 20288, Male’ Maldives) for USD 100 per night. The hotels are expensive in Male’ so I recommend trying Airbnb options. While booking into the hotel, do mention that you are on a work visa. They usually provide 30% discount on the normal rates.
Even for a South Asian, Male’ can be overwhelming during the first few weeks. The small streets, crowded lanes, and cramped houses amplify your senses but you are able to quickly find your around on a small island in no time. I was fortunate to find my apartment right next to the old Artificial Beach within 2 weeks of my arrival. Though the rent was very steep, my apartment was on the 9th floor and fully furnished. In the following months, the ocean view eventually became my avenue for escapism of living in a most crowded capital in the world J.
I lived in Hulhumale for four months and I loved the contrasting lifestyle it provided me to Male’. I highly recommend exploring living options in Hulhumale or Male’ before deciding on your apartment.
What is your job and why you choose this profession?
I work as a Project Manager for International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Maldives. IOM is a leading migration United Nations agency with a fundamental principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. It promotes well-managed migration through a partnership with states, migrants, and communities.
My work entailed close partnership with government and non-government stakeholders to assist in addressing operational challenges of migration and ensuring human dignity/ well-being of migrants. I worked closely with the government agencies and NGOs to promote migrant rights in the Maldives, counter human trafficking, address irregular migration and labor exploitation.
Maldives, as a middle-income country in South Asia region attracts many migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the even Philippines. As a destination country for economic migrants, it is important that the systems are in place to ensure their rights are protected and enabling conditions are created so that the migration experience is beneficial to both the migrant and Maldives.
I believe that migration is a critical global phenomenon across the world and as people move no one should face exploitation or abuse. IOM as a UN agency provides me the tools and platform to work with the state, migrants, and community on migration issues. My profession allows me to contribute, in a small way, to the lives of migrants for the better.
What do you like/dislike in Maldives?
Maldives lives up to the expectation of ‘paradise’ in the India Ocean. The unrivaled natural beauty with stunning white sand beaches and over 50 shades of turquoise blue water never ceased to amaze me. It was also a reminder of how fragile we are to the impacts of climate change and environment degradation.
Coming from a landlocked country, I loved my stay in Maldives because of the uniqueness in my experience- when I mentioned to my friends and family that traveled in a boat to get to work or to get to the only ‘bar’- Hulhumale’ Island Hotel, they thought it was very fancy. In contract, it was a public transport and very normal.
The people are very friendly and I gradually formed a bond of respect and friends. I loved Maldivian traditional breakfast “Masuni” and if you are a healthy person, it’s a great opportunity to eat fresh fishes straight from the sea!
Living and ‘not holidaying’ in a small island nation gives you a completely different experience. The everyday challenges of living on an island can settle in terms of limited choices and restricted space. Remember to keep focus on how Maldives is different and unique to every other country that you’ve lived in
Majority of people have only one-year contract. What about you? Have you thought to stay here forever?
I initially came to the Maldives with 5 month’s contract and ending up staying for 14 months.
Describe your typical weekday and day-off.
I worked from 8.00 -17.00, five days a week. I went to the gym ( Total Fitness Group- there are the best in the country) every day. I then either caught up with friends for dinner or went home.
Sometimes, I’d walk along the beach side in Hulhumale and even sitting by both the artificial beaches in Male’ is refreshing.
My weekends involved activities in the ocean. I got my PADI license with Maldives Dive Club and it was one of the coolest things I’ve done. It took me seven months to convince myself to try scuba diving and boy, I’m so glad that I did it. Most weekends in the latter half of my stay went in diving. There are many dive spots in and around Male’. You could dive as cheap as USD 58 for two dives- and it’s spectacular. I loved our dives to the Manta point and Banana Reef.
Day visits to resorts in Kaafu Atoll are another way to enjoy the beauty of Maldives without having to pay exorbitant prices. You can call the resorts directly and they offer transfer and meal packages.
Resort parties are fun too if go with a bunch of friends. Join the facebook groups – Expat in Maldives and ExpatMaldivesparty to get all the updates. Once you go for a few parties, you’ll start recognizing the people as the expat community is very small.
Hulhumale beach is a lot of fun during weekends. If you don’t want to travel too far to a local island or a resort, Hulhmale beach gives you that opportunity.
How many islands/resorts have you visited? What is your favorite one?
I visited many local island for work and pleasure. I visited many resorts too- whenever there were special deals for expat. My favorite was Rasdhoo island. I loved the resort and the sea-plane ride to the resort was one of my best experience.
How living in Maldives changed you? What people should know before moving?
Living in an island nation with the natural beauty at its best, yet on the other hand, the frailty and dependence to the environment have made me a conscious of how we are destroying nature. I got my PADI license and found my love for diving.
I found my fitness regime that worked for me and I actually lost weight. I also made long-lasting friendships through different cultures while living in a confined location. These are experiences I will always value.
If you are coming to live and work in Male’ or Hulhumale’, it is not always going to be sun, sand, and sea. Living in Maldives will give you access to the best beaches and underworld eco-system but be prepared for island fever- the solution is to get out of the country every now and then to come back with a refreshed mind.
What’s your best dining places in Male/Hulhumale?
Hotel Jen (sandwich)
Civil Coffee Society
Sea Gull cafe
Grand Ocean Hotel
Sea Gull shop
Why people should visit Maldives at least once?
Everyone I’ve met has Maldives on their bucket list and it lives up to your expectation at many levels. I loved my diving experience- the diversity of marine life and the reefs are breathtaking. If you are lucky, you get to see fishes, manta ray, stingray, eagle ray, and even sharks in one single dive. It’s been a humbling experience to be so close to the underwater eco-system.
The pristine islands with white sand beaches and crystal clear water is a dream holiday come true. Don’t forget to take the opportunity to get to the local islands to meet local people and understand their culture- it’s worth every bit.